Sunday, January 03, 2010

The last Redskins blackout

The Redskins at Chargers game today is not being carried by Fox, the network with the rights to broadcast it. Don't know if that decision was made locally, or further up the line at the Fox headquarters in an undisclosed location. Instead, the Eagles at Cowboys game will being televised as the late game on WRLH in Richmond.

The last time I remember Washington fans suffering such an ignominious fate on the season's last Sunday was 34 years ago. If it has happened since, it didn't leave a lasting memory like the game between the Eagles and the Redskins on Dec. 21, 1975. Although the game then had no bearing on the playoffs, it was Charley Taylor's chance to set a new record for pass receptions; he needed two to establish a new NFL standard.

When we couldn't get the game on my TV Ernie Brooks and I went over to the station's offices on Broad St. to see what the deal was; the station's phone line was busy. The late John Shand (I believe he was the general manager then) came to the door and told us the network had pulled the game and there was nothing he could do. We asked if the game was still being carried by the affiliate in Washington. He said it was.

With a snowstorm underway, Ernie and I drove to Fredericksburg. We rented a room at a motel that featured DeeCee television stations. Long story ... short: We saw Taylor break the record in the second half.


Bryan A. Rothamel said...

It was a local decision not to show the game. Even Hampton Roads decided not to show it. Sad when event he locals don't want to show it when given the chance.

In their defense, the Dallas game was moved to 4:30 pm to create a better audience. Guess it worked.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, meaningless game, or NFC east title game between two playoff teams....not a tough choice. The number of people who wanted to see Dallas/Philly no doubt outnumbered the number of Redskins fans who would have actually tuned in to watch their last meaningless game against SD.

Anonymous said...

A couple of comments from the other half of that crazy duo who drove 60 miles to do what was essentially a pay-per-view (the motel room wasn't free!) to see a meaningless Skins game. The game that bumped the B&G from the Richmond airwaves that day was only marginally meaningful (as I recall, it was the Cards, who had clinched a playoff spot, vs. the Lions, who were not in the playoff hunt, although 1st place in the East may have still been unresolved between St. Louis & the Cowpies.) In this past weekend's Richmond airing, the teams vying for 1st place in the East were going head-to-head, and they're both teams many Richmonders have strong feelings about given that Washington plays each twice a year. So the choice of which game to air made a bit more sense this time. As a side note, I moved to DC a few years after that snowy trip to Fredericksburg, had season tickets at grand old RFK stadium from the '83 to the '92 season, and I couldn't have told you who was playing in the final games this year, much less what was being aired (of course, the Skins game was being aired here in DC). How times have changed!

The other comment has to do with something that I felt was particularly memorable from that 1975 broadcast. Yes, it was great to see Taylor's new record as it happened (there was no ESPN, so you couldn't count on catching it on a highlight show the next day), but, for me, the best thing was what happened in the 2nd half of the telecast, which I'm quite certain was only ever seen by those who were tuned in that day. Billy Kilmer was the quarterback in those days (Jurgensen had recently retired, and gone into broadcasting), but BK had suffered a bad ankle injury late in the season, and was in the hospital recovering from surgery that day. Now I can't say for certain if Sonny had taken a film crew to the hospital & was doing an interview with Kilmer from bedside, or there was a remote connection between Jurgy in the booth & Billy in his hospital bed, but the interview essentially took over the telecast, and there was definitely a consumption of alcohol & pain killing medication taking place between the two principals. Given that that same sort of thing was taking place between the two adventurers from Richmond, we felt a kinship with the guys on the screen like I've never experienced, before or since. Wouldn't have missed it for anything!!

Washington, DC